Northcliffe Explorer

Trip Leader: Bob & Bridget McPherson

When: 25/4/13 to 28/4/13

Location: Northcliffe

Participants: Bob & Bridget McPherson

This adventurous south coast trip was advertised as including splendid scenery, beach runs, historical buildings and a relaxed bush setting. Our trip leaders certainly met our expectations in those departments, and they included some interesting and valuable vehicle training sessions, sightings of rare bush fauna, controllable weather settings and even examples of magnificent non-electronic navigation techniques!!

Originally planned to start on Anzac day, Thursday April 25th, half the group arrived at the Round-Tuit Eco Caravan Park on the 24th. This allowed for a very easy start for Bob and Bridget, John and Lyn Byworth, Rob and Julie Nankiville , and Peter Cole on Thursday morning. Most of the morning was taken up by inspections of caravan and vehicle set-ups. There were lots of new gadgets to inspect, and even a technical demonstration of why Rob and Julie needed a new starter battery in the Triton. I’m not supposed to mention here that Rob also had a faulty multimeter that showed his flat battery voltage as over 14V, so I won’t.

As the afternoon progressed the rest of the trip participants rolled up and formed up around “our end” of the park. On Wednesday all the caravanners had arrived, so on Thursday the camper trailers of Peter & Lyn Fry, Stephen
Kalyniuk, and the multiple tents of Michael and Marion Gilbert were set up. At sometime during the afternoon we were wondering what set-up Eddie and Robbyn Chalk would arrive with. Well we were all wrong, they trumped us all as they had acquired the luxurious cabin at the top end of the park.

Wednesday night’s campfire had been a little disappointing as most of the local bush wood we collected was quite wet – literally. It was obvious with all the greenery around in the forest that Northcliffe has not been short of rain!! Even the efforts of our trip pyro Julie did little to raise the flames above a sedate sizzle. Oh how we longed for the chainsaw experts from last years Kadji trip to provide firewood. We resorted to asking our park manager for some extra firewood and this allowed us to get a better fire going on Thursday night.

The trip proper started after a sedate breakfast on Friday morning and a gathering at the local bakery for a trip briefing. It was while we were listening to Bob’s dulcet tones that we were privileged to see and hear the magnificent southern custardius tarticus unrealisticus in all its glory – see pic 1. We are not sure how many custard tarts Stephen actually purchased at the bakery but he seemed to have fresh one at every stop!

Following a route Bridget had selected for the beautiful scenery, we headed off south from town onto Boorara Rd towards the first stop of the day at Fish Creek. With the fine weather it was a very relaxing drive through a variety of farmland and woodlands until crossing Chesapeake Rd where we halted to air down for the softer sand tracks ahead.

Fish Creek was a very scenic but windswept location, with evidence of the rehabilitation work being undertaken by DEC  and of the serious erosion of the coastline that actually threatens the hut itself. See pic 2
From the Fish Creek location is was planned to drive through to West Cliff Point and drive along the beach for a distance to head off towards Moore’s Hut. Due to the unusually high tide at the beach entry point it was decided to turn around and head back along Fish Creek Track to reach Moores Track .  At this point there was a good deal of radio chatter about the location of the alternate route and what everyone’s gps was showing, however Bridget trumped us all by announcing she could see the track in her Roads and Tracks atlas !

Lunch was taken at a very crowded Moores Track campsite, it is obviously very popular with locals who were happy for us to squeeze up and have a chat. Lunchtime conversations on club trips are always educational, and this was no exception. One topic was organ donation and Stephen K, between custard tarts, regaled us with a wonderful insight into the relationship between brain activity, organ donations and corneal transplants.

The return trip was back along the sandy tracks and onto the scenic Boorara Rd, up to Northcliffe and back to base after doing a little over 130kms, all in time for a hot shower, tasty tucker and another evening around our small damp campfire – see pic 3. Note here the guy with short legs (on his chair), that’s Eddie. Someone told him if he behaved himself on the next trip he might be allowed to sit at the same level as the grown-ups around the campfire!

We don’t how he did it, but Bob must have some important contacts in the weather bureau, only after the very last person had left the campfire did the rain start. While not particularly heavy rain, it was constant during the night but Bob managed to have it ease off to a very light drizzle at dawn. By the time we assembled at the town café for the start of the day’s trip the rain had eased off and the sun was emerging. We were also treated to another appearance of the magnificent southern custardius tarticus unrealisticus.

On the agenda for the day was a visit west of the town to the area of Callcup Hill, with a small diversion to view a historic shack that Bob and Bridget had discovered on their pre-trip at Easter. They had been treated to morning tea by the shack owners and given a brief history of what was originally a small hut from the Gloucester Tree. See pic 3 .
Sadly the owners were not there to provide us all with refreshments, but we did sight the magnificent southern custardius tarticus unrealisticus again – see pic 4
When we arrived at the top of the infamous Callcup Hill , the sun was shining, a fresh breeze was blowing off the Southern Ocean and we had the hill to ourselves for a short time. Not everyone wanted to play today so some of the vehicles were parked up the top out of the traffic while the “sandpit mob” aired down to manage the very soft sand. See pic 5
Our mob headed off down the hill just as several other drivers arrived to share the track. Obviously Bob had not managed to obtain an “exclusive sand hill pass” so uhf became very useful to direct traffic.

Rob had decided to leave the triton at the top and eased Lyn out of the passenger seat in the Fry challenger so he could experience the hill. Peter and John had opted to act as cameramen, and Lyn and Julie were more than happy to watch from the dunes. Everone else headed off down the hill to the very end, which seemed sooooo farrr away. First back up was Peter in his challenger, or at least partly back up. He tried a different line and got stuck not too far from the top. So with more air out of the tyres and a lot of reversing he made it to the top on a less adventurous line. While the adjustments were being made, Eddie and Robyn eased smoothly past in the Isuzu taking a surer path with a cheeky toot to the bogged duo. Michael and Marion followed on their first ascent, the Gilberts are always playing in the sand, so they had a couple of rides. Bob and Bridget made it to the top after some minor adjustments to tyre pressures, and Stephen cruised up in his challenger to show them all how easy it was!!

 With the sandpit getting busier as the day wore on, we assembled at the top and attempted a graceful exit from the hill. Stephen had some difficulty manoeuvring towards the exit and decided to air down some more as the top exit was very soft sand, and then he discovered a suspicious air leak! It was decided that he needed to make a tyre change right where he was near the exit as there would not be too many spots he could pull up on the track out. What a wonderful opportunity to use some of the gadgets we had brought along! With Rob wanting to use his new exhaust jack we all assembled around the car and with all the aplomb of a well oiled F1 pit crew we had the leaking tyre off and the spare on in it’s place all within oooh lets say a pretty reasonable long lunch break. Sadly for Stephen the problem was not just a tyre but a damaged alloy rim from the rocks on the lower stage of the hill. Wise choice though to take the time here and not wait to see what happened on the drive back.

Our “pit crew training” session meant we had a later return to Northcliffe than planned so lunch was somewhere in mid-afternoon. Somehow though this did not have any detrimental effect on appetites as everyone piled into the Northcliffe hotel for Saturday dinner. The rest of the evening was taken up by a trip review around a well-stoked campfire with lots of thanks and praise for our intrepid expedition leaders Bob and Bridget. Perhaps the best news to come out of the campfire was the announcement that the trip could be on the trip calendar for next year as well.

Sunday was the pack up and leave day. With people having different priorities to catch up with back home we staged a staggered pack up and somewhat damp departure from the Round-Tuit CP. There were loads of photographs taken so the trip report at the June meeting should be very entertaining and there may even be some video of Callcup Hill to watch.


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